Republicans are thrilled that Trump stayed on message during one of the big tests following his first year as president

Pool/Win McNamee via Associated PressPresident Donald Trump at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.
  • Republicans appeared relieved and elated following President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.
  • Conservatives called the speech on Tuesday night “outstanding,” “amazing,” and “inspirational.”
  • A public-opinion poll found that 48% of people who watched the speech had a “very positive” impression of it – though it was that poll’s lowest net positive rating since 1998.

President Donald Trump during his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening declared a “new American moment,” boasted of the new tax law and the strength of the US economy, and appealed for an overhaul of legal immigration channels.

Reactions to Trump’s speech fell largely along well-trod partisan lines. Democrats expressed outrage at his divisive rhetoric and portrayal of immigrants as national security threats, while Republicans, with a mix of relief and elation, celebrated his ability to stay on message.

“It was really an outstanding speech,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, according to Time. “It was terrific – far beyond what I anticipated. He’s come a long way.”

“He nailed it,” Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota told CNN. “He stayed on target, he stayed on message.”

Responses from Trump’s allies in conservative media were predictably ecstatic, with the Fox News host Sean Hannity calling the address “amazing” and “inspirational.”

“To the haters in the media, and those that wanted him to fail, nobody cares what you have to say,” he tweeted. “America is back. Thank God.”

Laura Ingraham, another conservative Fox News host, said on Twitter, “Been saying for a while that in 2018 we needed to move from the ‘politics of anger,’ to the politics of the possible & progress.”

The president “did that last night,” she said.

Even Frank Luntz, a GOP pollster and political-messaging strategist who has previously been critical of Trump, appeared euphoric.

“Tonight, I owe Donald Trump an apology,” he tweeted. “Tonight, I was moved and inspired. Tonight, I have hope and faith in America again.”

‘A conservative speech culturally and thematically’

Others, however, were more tepid in their reactions.

The conservative writer Jonah Goldberg wrote in National Review that Trump’s speech was “politically effective,” adding that Trump rightly touted his economic achievements.

“This was for the most part a conservative speech culturally and thematically,” Goldberg wrote. “But except for some laudable bits about streamlining the bureaucracy and improving FDA policy, there wasn’t a hint of fiscal conservatism to it.”

He also said the speech was hardly the bipartisan, unifying one the White House had teased, and he criticised Trump’s long diatribe against the street gang MS-13 as “hyperbolic and exploitative.”

Public opinion of the speech appeared to be in Trump’s favour. ACNN poll conducted by SSRS found that 48% of Americans who watched the speech said they had a “very positive” impression of it, while 28% said they had negative feelings about it.

But that marked the lowest net positive rating for a State of the Union address since 1998, when CNN began conducting the survey.

Democrats, meanwhile, remained staunch in their opposition to Trump and his speech, slamming his immigration priorities and sweeping promises of infrastructure funding. They attracted a sizable amount of criticism for their reactions during Trump’s speech and their refusal to stand or cheer at various points.

“It was stunning to watch Washington Democrats sit there stone-faced and refuse to applaud more jobs, higher wages, jobs coming back to America,” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told Hannity in an interview.

Though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi warned her Democratic colleagues not to disrupt the event and told them to “let the attention be on” Trump’s “slobbering self,” Politico reported, several booed and at least one yelled “That’s not true” when Trump misrepresented a component of the US immigration system, declaring falsely that “a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”

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